Reviews// Darksiders II

Posted 14 Aug 2012 17:01 by
Revisiting Darksiders, it seems more and more of a shame that the first game in the series got lost behind the flashier charms of Bayonetta. Yes, they both featured lots and lots of fisticuffs and a cast lifted right from a manga version of the Bible, but they were very different beasts.

If there's one thing a midsummer release guarantees the sequel, though, it's that there won't be anything around to steal the spotlight. In a lot of ways, it feels like the original is getting a second shot, as the sequel shares most of the same strengths and weaknesses as the first.

For those new to Darksiders, it's tempting to call it "Zelda for grown-ups". Except, of course, Zelda is Zelda for grown-ups. It would be more accurate to call it Zelda for people who don't have a Nintendo console and are a bit 'dark'. Darksiders II is an action RPG, with the emphasis skewing a little towards 'action'.

This time out, we're following War's brother, Death. War, you might recall, has been framed for kicking off the apocalypse a bit early. Earth's in ruins, man kind has been destroyed, etc etc etc. Where War set out to prove his innocence in a cosmic whodunnit, however, Death is a little more ambitious. Death reckons that the best way to get War off the hook is to wipe the slate clean. The way to do this is to find the Tree of Life. So off Death traipses to the Netherealms to get to the aforementioned tree.

Things quickly settle into the formula you know and, if you're considering getting this game, probably love from the first title. Get mission, find yourself in dungeon, crawl/fight/puzzle aound dungeon, fight boss, complete mission. And it's all executed rather well.

Credit is once again due to Joe Madureira and the design team at Vigil. Darksiders II leans more fully into a gothic, epic fantasy style than its predecessor. There's no starting off on Earth here. It's straight from an arctic tower to an autumnal world littered with some seriously mountainous architecture. True to Joe Mad's style, there's a Western Manga vibe to much of the character and monster design, with almost steampunkish elements sneaking into some of the rock 'constructs' you run up against.

Death is quicker and more agile than War, so combat is a little different to that of the first game. It's less about gaining new weapons than it is about acquiring new moves and upgrades to your existing kit via points you can spend on a skill tree and in-game currency. (There's something vaguely saddening about having survived the end of the world and still needing cash to get by, but I dare say it's no sadder than having the grim reaper be our last, best hope.)

Anyway, this shift in protagonist also comes with a slight shift in play style. It's a little less about punching things until they break and a little more about wandering round ruined temples until you find inexplicably-placed levers to get improbably-vast stone plumbing moving. As a result of that, it's a little more platformy, too.

The environmental puzzles aren't about finding the next awesome bit of kit to see you round a dungeon any more they're about working your way around the place, setting off the right environmental triggers.
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